I’m a school governor! #1

Being a school governor can be a very rewarding occupation. In this occasional series, governors fromDenise Maloney across a variety of phases and establishment share what it was like for them. Meet Denise!

Changing role

I have been a governor in maintained schools in a London Borough for over 24 years. Governance has changed beyond recognition during that time and has gone from being a ‘chit chat role’ with ‘a cuppa and biscuit’ to what we know today – a really essential, professional role, based on skills, that can make or even in some cases, break a school. The journey to where we are now has had its ups and downs, brought about by changes both to governance roles and to accountability.

Changes to the curriculum have come and gone and been reinvented as have changes to Ofsted and the framework. A change in the professional approach required of governors has been tough. Having to ‘interview’ prospective governors, as though they were applying for a paid job still haunts some, but needs must. Schools have also had their challenges, changes to the curriculum, changes to raise the bar for teaching, performance management introduced, changes to the professional standards, changes in the way teachers are held to account by the Head and governors.

Assessment plays a big part in schools now as does behaviour, attainment, progress, advances in technology and most importantly keeping children safe, both in and out of school and also on-line and with the popularity of mobile phones now, cyber bullying and let’s not forget how parenting has changed!

Paid post or volunteer?

Many governors have, over the years complained about the role being unpaid, having to dedicate many hours to do the job – and it is a job – properly, about the accountability, about the involvement of outside agencies, about having to attend meetings regularly and ultimately about making the commitment needed to fulfil the role. Some head teachers and staff are, even now, still not at ease with school governance and governors – perhaps that tells a story all of its own, which is for another time, but like it or not we are here to stay. Governors are unsung heroes in all schools and despite the above, are frequently not recognised and get little or no praise and sometimes, not even a ‘thank you’.

Why do it?

So I guess that all this begs the question ‘why do we all do it? The answer is very simple: in each and every case, it is for the children and the difference we can help to make to their learning. If we are not in school governance for their sake, we should not be governors! The path I have been on has had very good times and also very some turbulent and troubled times, but knowing that I’m making a difference for even one child keeps me from throwing in the towel during the less nice times. The great rewards of seeing the positive journey that the children are on, because of good governance and the partnership with the head teacher and staff is worth every minute and second of the time it takes up.

Denise Maloney is managing director of Tamm Ltd, a School Governor Consultancy.

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